The Preservation League of New York State has selected the restoration of the 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct in Camillus to receive an award for Excellence in Historic Preservation.
Camillus Erie Canal Park Directors Liz and Dave Beebe were honored May 12 at the landmark New York Yacht Club in New York City.
"We gratefully accepted this award on behalf of all our volunteers and members of the Camillus Canal Society who never lost faith in the aqueduct project,' said Liz and Dave in a joint statement. "We have deeply appreciated the continuous support, encouragement and commitment from our town officials ... It is vital that communities continue their support to restore historic structures for future generations."
The 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct is the only restored navigable aqueduct in New York State, one of 32 constructed in the first enlargement of the Erie Canal in New York State, of which only seven remain intact. The aqueduct - a water-filled bridge that carries canal boats over rivers, streams or valleys - is the centerpiece of the Camillus Erie Canal Park, which is the midpoint between Albany and Buffalo. Four stone arches made of fine Onondaga limestone quarried from Split Rock support the towpath.
Liz and Dave said that in 1990, a group of people began to seriously study how to restore the aqueduct to operating condition. In 1996, the Camillus Canal Society was formed, enabling park volunteers to seek funds from local, state, federal and private sources.
"High quality restoration work aside, the narrative of this project is breathtaking in the scope and scale with regards to collaboration," said Jay DiLorenzo, President of the Preservation League. "The all-volunteer Camillus Canal Society's unyielding dedication to the restoration of this portion of the canal is truly commendable."
The Beebes said the impact of the restoration project has been significant, allowing them to bring boats over the aqueduct and extend their narrated historical trips for an additional mile.
"We have seen a great increase in visitors with the opening of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, and according to a recent study, the 1844 Nine Mile Creek Aqueduct is one of the most utilized sites along the Canalway Trail," they said. "We are a key to economic growth in the region, and are truly honored to receive this recognition."